Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

Milchar

Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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Milchar
October-November 2003 issue

Kashmir's Silk Embroidery with floral patterns

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

 
  Stories for the Children

  M.K. Raina

Three Questions Part 4  

(Click for Part 3)

Murlidharan learned about the day, date and time of the coronation ceremony. The astrologer within him awoke. He became suspicious about the time. Something was wrong, he felt. He started studying the grahas prevailing at the time of the ceremony. His suspicion was not unfounded. The time fixed for Varun's coronation was the most inauspicious one. He had no doubt now, but was not in a position to pronounce the truth. He tried to keep his calm though he was highly disturbed.

    On the day of coronation, he accompanied Guru Vasudeva to the place, where ceremony was to be held. They occupied their seats in the front row. Ground was over flowing with people. The royal family was yet to arrive.

    The king, queen and the prince arrived  in a royal carriage. All of them ascended on to the dais specially erected for the purpose. People shouted jayjaykar in praise of the king, the queen and the prince. The Mahamantri gave details of the ceremony.

    The jyotshi in Murlidharan, kept pricking his conscience. He was in a fix. Time was running out. He could not decide what to do? In the anxious state of mind, he unknowingly pressed Vasudeva's hand. Vasudeva turned to him. Murlidharan was sweating profusely. Guru felt, Murlidharan wanted to say something but was not able to speak. He patted him gently and asked him to speak out. Murlidharan revealed that the time chosen for the coronation was most inauspicious as per his calculations. Guru Vasudeva was perplexed. How could the illiterate Murlidharan make astrological calculations? Murlidharan pleaded with him to convey his message to the king. Guru Vasudeva was in a fix. He could not decide what to do? On Murlidharan's insistence, he decided to present him before the king.

    Before the Raj-jyotshi could stand up to announce  commencement of the coronation ceremony, Vasudeva got up and climbed on to the dais. He requested the king to grant Murlidharan an audience immediately. Having high regards for Guru Vasudeva, the king agreed.

    Murlidharan was still sweating. He requested the King to postpone the ceremony as the time was very inauspicious. On hearing this, the King and the Raj-jyotshi were taken aback. Raj-jyotshi refuted Murlidharan's claim. The King was confused. He asked Murlidharan, " Who are you and on what basis do you refute our Raj-jyotshi's calculations." Murlidharan replied, " Your Majesty! My real name is Narsimha. I cannot tell you anything more about myself now. But I stand by my prediction. The time calculated by your Raj-jyotshi is most inauspicious. Coronation of Rajkumar Varun at this time, will be disastrous." "But how do we believe your words?" asked the Mahamantri. Narsimha said, "A little before the designated time, Sun will be completely eclipsed. The country will be engulfed into complete darkness. There will be no light for quite some time. If this happens, my prediction should be taken as correct". "And if it does not happen?", asked the King. "In that case I offer my head", replied Narsimha. The King announced, "Let our Raj-jyotshi keep everything ready for the ceremony. If the Sun is eclipsed, the ceremony will automatically stand postponed. And if it does not happen, the coronation will proceed as per programme and Narsimha shall be beheaded immediately after the ceremony."

King's decision was hailed by everybody. Narsimha was held captive by the guards. Guru Vasudeva was standing beside him. He was feeling pity for poor Narsimha. "How can Narsimha make such a prediction and prove the Raj-jyotshi wrong", thought he. He was sure Narsimha would face death.

    But things happened exactly as Narsimha had predicted. Soon, the Sun was completely eclipsed. There was complete darkness. Nothing around was visible. The king and the queen and all others were terrified. The crowd stood mesmerised. This phenomenon lasted a few minutes. Immediately, after the Sun shone again, the king stood up and embraced Narsimha. Vasudeva was glad but confused. Raj-jyotshi had vanished from the dais to escape ensuing punishment. Narsimha was designated as the new Raj-jyotshi. He was asked to present himself in the Raj Bhawan next day, for a formal ceremony.

    Vasudeva and Narsimha returned to the Ashram. Vasudeva was still in shock. He could not make out as to how an illiterate person could make such an accurate prediction. He did not ask Narsimha any questions. Instead he decided to put the truth before the King.

    The following day, Vasudeva accompanied Narsimha to the Raj Mahal. Before the formal ceremony, Vasudeva approached the king and said, "Your Majesty! I am greatly pleased to have my dear Narsimha appointed as Raj-jyotshi. But before this is done, It is my duty to tell you some facts about him. Narsimha has been with me for the last fifteen years. He is illiterate and does not know a word about astrology. How could he work out the exact happening, is still a mystery to me? If he really is an astrologer, then why did he lie?  Ashram is a sacred place for bringing up the most noble breed of children. How can one lie while seeking admission to such a place. If Narsimha is really lied except under most compelling circumstances, I request your majesty to give him a befitting punishment."

    The king looked at Narsimha and asked him to divulge the truth. Narsimha stood with his head low and eyes filled with tears. He said, "Yes, Your Majesty! I am a liar. I deserve to be punished. But I would like to reveal the circumstances which compelled me to hide the truth." Narsimha then narrated his story to the king. At the end, Narsimha said, "I had to lie out of compulsion. Had I not lied, I would have been caught by my king and punished. I am however still surprised, how could my prediction go wrong in his case?"

    The king did not pronounce his judgement. He ordered that Narsimha be kept in custody till a final decision was taken.

 

"That was Narsimha's story",  Guru Vasudeva concluded. He said to Ananta, "The king will take a decision soon. I am myself in pain, to see Narsimha in custody. But I am helpless. Lying is a sin and in an Ashram, it is the biggest sin."

 

When the king ordered Narsimha's custody, he was not sure of the facts. He could not make out as to why Narsimha's prediction in case of his own king had gone wrong. He counselled with his aides, but they could also provide no clue.

    One day, the king discussed the issue with the queen. She was also worried for Narsimha. After all, he had saved them from a disaster. She thought for a while and said, "Why don't we call the villager Sehdeva, whose wife had also delivered a baby that day". "What can he do", asked the king. "I think the answer lies there only", replied the queen.

    The king sent an emissary to Narsimha's village to fetch Sehdeva. When he came, the queen asked him if he knew the astrologer Narsimha? Sehdeva  was sore with that name. He told the queen, "I don't want to talk about him. He made a wrong prediction. He said that my child would die the same day. My daughter is very much alive. She has read all Vedas and has become an epithet of knowledge."

    The queen got the answer. Narsimha was really a great astrologer. She told the king, "It is evident that the timing of the birth of two babies were messed up. So horoscopes also changed hands. One meant for the king was delivered to Sehdeva and that meant for Sehdeva was given to the king. There was nothing wrong with the predictions.

    The king was delighted. Narsimha was released and brought before the king. He was accorded a warm reception by all. Guru Vasudeva was called to the palace. He was relieved to know that Narsimha had only lied under very compelling circumstances. He sent a message for Narsimha's wife Rohini, his son Gautama and Ananta. On the same day, Narsimha was formally appointed as Raj-jyotshi. He touched the feet of the king, the queen and Guru Vasudeva in reverence.

 

Ananta got the answer to his third question: What is that which one can not hide for long? And the answer was 'One's roots'.

    Ananta had answers for all the three questions now. His mission was complete but he still had some time left at his disposal. He desired to seek more knowledge from Guru Vasudeva. So he decided to stay back in the Ashram.

    In less than one year's time, Ananta read and memorised all vedas and other religious scriptures. He also got acquainted with the codes and customs concerning worldly affairs. He now sought Guru Vasudeva's  permission to leave. Guru, with a heavy heart allowed him to go. All boys of the Ashram were grieved. And so was Gautama, who had found a good companion in Ananta. But Ananta had no option.

    While on his way back, Ananta thought, "Did I not commit a sin by not revealing my identity to Guru Vasudeva?" He decided to seek its answer from his Rajguru on reaching his palace.

 

Ananta was back in Saraspur. It was almost a year after he had left Mihira. When he reached the palatial house of Mihira, he was shocked to find that the house now belonged to Kalpaka, the rich man who lived across Saraswati. Ananta enquired from the dwarpal who was previously in Mihira's employment, as to how did the house transfer to his new master. Dwarpal replied, "Mihira became very greedy. In his thirst for more riches, he challenged Kalpaka to a game of dice. Kalpaka accepted the challenge. Mihira lost the first game and with that some riches. Kalpaka wanted him to withdraw. But Mihira insisted on continuing with the game. In the hope of winning back, he kept on playing game after game till he lost everything. His wives abandoned him when he turned pauper.  "And where is Mihira?", asked Ananta. "He has started afresh, carving stones at his old place", replied dwarpal.

    Ananta went to the river bank to meet Mihira. He found Mihira engrossed in carving a block of stone. Mihira did not see Ananta till he came very close. Mihira looked up and greeted Ananta with a radiant and smiling face. Ananta had never before seen such a smile on his face. Ananta sat down. But even before he could speak, Mihira said, "Look, don't ask me any questions. I have come a long way since you met me first. I craved for riches and I was able to achieve all that I wanted. But there was no contentment. At every step, I felt inferior to yet another rich man. I wanted to be the wealthiest. My first wife, who had supported me all through the bad phase of my life, left me. I am sure, even if I had succeeded in getting all of Kalpaka's wealth, I would not have been satisfied. I have realised there is no end to this lust. It is only the contentment that brings lasting pleasure".  Ananta then corrected his answer to the first question: 'One's lasting pleasure does not lie in riches. It lies in one's contentment.'

    Mihira requested Ananta to stay with him for a day, not as his worker, but as a friend. Ananta stayed back and tasted the delicious food cooked by Mihira.

    Ananta left Saraspur next morning. He had a fortnight before his time limit of five years would elapse. He felt sure that his answers to the three questions were correct. On his way to Arunagiri, he had to fulfill his promise of visiting Anusuya at Chandri.

 

When Ananta reached Chandri, he was shocked to see Anusuya in a  pitiable condition. His son had contracted an illness which was unheard of in the region. His legs were first paralysed, then his arms and in about a year's time, his entire body was affected.  All treatment given to him had failed. The child lay motionless on the floor. Anusuya had spent all his wealth and had also sold off his land for treatment of the child. Someone suggested that the Tantrik who had earlier cured Pushpalata, be called. But Anusuya felt helpless as he had nothing left to pay the tantrik.

    Ananta was in a shocked state of mind. He could not see Anusuya and Pushpalata in agony. He wanted to console them, so he stayed with them.

    With each passing day, child's condition worsened. One morning they found that the child had lost his sight. Pushpalata screamed in anguish and threw her body at the feet of her house deity. Ananta became restless. He could not bear any more with Anusuya's and Pushpalata's pitiable state. He sent for the Tantrik.

    Tantrik came and examined the child. He was confident that he could cure the child in a day. But he would not be able to restore his vision. Ananta  asked him his fee, and also if there was a possibility of restoring the child's eyesight? Tantrik asked for a hefty sum as his fees. Ananta promised to pay him the fee only after the child was cured of paralysis. The Tantrik informed told him that the child's vision could be restored only if someone donated his eyes. "But who would donate his eyes", thought Ananta. 

    Tantrik went ahead with the treatment. By Sunset, the child  had completely recovered from the paralysis. But he had no vision. Pushpalata embraced her child.  

       As soon as the Tantrik stood up to leave, Pushpalata in a very calm and composed manner caught him by his hand.  With a strange smile on her face, she looked directly into the Tantrik's eyes and said, "You can't leave before you carve out my eyes and restore my child's sight."  And the Tantrik did it.

- To be continued.

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